Courting Allies, Publicizing Putin’s Plans: Inside Biden’s Race to Prevent War
The Dec. 3 document was the first in a series of efforts by the United States and Britain to release intelligence information about Russian plans, which would include details of a Russian campaign of sabotage, an attempted coup and an elaborate attempt to use a fake video to provide a pretext for a invasion and other false flag operations planned by the Russian military intelligence agency GRU
Mr. Biden and Mr. Putin spoke over a secure video link for an hour and 59 minutes on the morning of December 7, just three days after the declassified document was released. According to American officials, the president offered Mr. Putin a choice: either agree to diplomacy or risk serious economic and political consequences from the sanctions that would be imposed after an invasion of Ukraine.
In a way, Mr. Biden was clearly prepared for the moment. He has visited Ukraine half a dozen times in the past decade and knows the country better than any other American president. His foreign policy team consists of so-called “Atlanticians” who have spent their lives thinking about European security. (Antony J. Blinken, the secretary of state, grew up in Paris.)
Aides also said Mr Biden’s long history with Mr Putin made him less vulnerable to the Russian president’s tactics. Speaking about Ukraine, officials said Mr Putin often enjoyed lengthy stretches explaining minutiae of the Minsk accords, an intricate diplomatic effort with Ukraine that has been going on for years, in hopes of confusing the situation.
On Christmas Day last year, the Russian military publicly announced the withdrawal of 10,000 troops from the Ukrainian border, citing this as evidence that Mr Putin has no intention of raiding his neighbor any time soon.
In the White House, the President and his team didn’t buy it.
Intelligence officials had seen repeated incidents in which the Russians moved a battalion tactical group near the border, established the infrastructure needed for a rapid invasion, and then withdrew the troops again, leaving a shell for use by other battalions. the Russian National Guard or other armed forces loyal to Putin.